Monday, February 25, 2013

A Mosaic Review: The 2013 Lined Format Blog Planner

For my very first review with Mosaic Reviews, I selected a 2013 Blog Planner created by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Why did I choose this planner?
What first drew me to this planner over others was it's large section for tracking reviews and giveaways.  I write a lot of reviews so this is a great feature for me.

I was also especially excited by the lined option which leaves smaller spaces for my thoughts than the calendar style. I just don't have time in my busy day to fill up a full square of thoughts on blogging. The simple little line is just perfect for me.

Each line allows me to mark if the post features a review, giveaway, or winner. I can also track my social media posts by checking off the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google + squares.  This is very helpful to me. Too often my social media  posts are delayed after thoughts. This planner puts them right at the forefront where I can't miss them.

The art designs on the side of each page of this planner are soft and soothing. They don't detract my eye from the actual planning taking place on these pages.

Most ladies would probably follow Erica's advice and print their copies and have them spiral bound all nice and neat. 

I'm not most ladies. I prefer to use a normal hole punch and add the pages to a simple three ring binder. 
I have so much to plan in my day that blogging is just one small area of it. I need all the aspects of my life combined in one central location. That's why I used my favorite pepto bismol pink three ring binder. Now this planner is right beside the others that I use as well as all of my business notes for CWA, logins and passwords and tons more records I can't risk loosing. This binder is my go to for everything. 

The 2013 lined Blog Planner by Confessions of a Homeschooler will continue to be a great time saver for this area of my life.  It's completely free too. You can't beat that, right?

You can download your planner here.

Now, a special thing I noticed was that the end page for this planner is very attractively designed. For that reason, I printed extras of this page. A simple stick on tab affixed to the edge turns it into a beautiful divider which I use even for the non-blog related items. 

I also use one of these extra pages to track my blog statistics and record the weekly listens report for blog talk radio. 

Erica has created a wonderful resource for bloggers that I, for one, truly appreciate.

While you're visiting Erica's blog to download this beautiful planner, take a look around. Glean some of the creative homeschooling ideas she shares on her adorable site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finding Faith In the City Care Forgot

Have you ever found yourself taken off guard and completely stunned by how powerful and eloquent a writer can be?

That was me today.

I was sitting in the dentist office this morning waiting for two of my kids to get their teeth cleaned. I pulled out my kindle and searched for something to read.

Finding Faith just seemed to speak to me today so I opened it up and started reading.

I could not stop!

Teen Myers is creatively journalistic. Her depiction of a story is so layered and completely profound. From the introduction it's very clear that this author has done her homework and mastered her craft.

Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot is a mix of faith stories from believers and personal interviews with people on both sides of the faith debate.

I would love to have lunch with Teena Myers. Her thoughtful approach to faith and her intelligent perspective is very inspiring.

I loved the story of Jeremy Quintini the missionary who fulfilled a prophesy just by being where God placed him.

I learned from Bill Shanks' story how deep the depravity of our country goes on the abortion issue. I had never heard of the mold technique before and found it truly disgusting. Bills's story challenged me to examine my commitment to pro-life issues.

I also enjoyed reading about her interview with Michelle, a Jewish believer in Jesus. Michelle explains that, though the Messiah didn't bring the social political peace the Jewish culture expected, he brought an eternal peace between God and man that goes far deeper than politics.

The last poignant chapter covers her discussion with an atheist who thoughtfully and respectfully states his beliefs to her over coffee. Their mutual respect for each other (in spite of their difference of theology) is so complex and revealing.

Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot is an eloquent recording of philosophy and religion depicted in the real life examples of every day people whose paths miraculously crossed with this talented writer. This book wonderfully captures the message of faith to its readers.

You can order your copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot on Amazon.

I am a member of the CWA Review Crew. I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my fair and honest review.  You can read reviews of this book from other members of the CWA Review Crew here.

Fool Moon Rising

Looking for a simple and beautifully illustrated book to teach children the concept of humility?

Look no further than Fool Moon Rising by Kristi and T. Lively Fluharty.

From the glowing punch of color on each glossy page to the whimsical rhyme of the story itself, this book captures a child's attention from the first to the last page.

The moon is quite foolish. It seems he has become a bit prideful. He boasts of his light, his power to control his shape and even his influence on the tides. He feels very big and important until a ray from the sun zaps him just a little, reminding him that it isn't he who should get the glory but the sun whom he reflects.

Fool Moon Rising is a lovely story with a gentle but significant depth.  Parents and children will be stirred to reexamine who they reflect and why.

The last two pages feature some discussion questions and fun facts about outer space.

Fool Moon Rising is a delight. The artwork is truly stunning. I think this illustrator (Tom Lively) is a blessing to believers as he uses his obvious talent for God's glory.

You can order your copy today at Crossway.

Go here to learn more about this and other projects by Crossway.

I am a member of Crossway's Homeschool Book Review Program. I received this book for free in exchange for my fair and honest review.

TRIP: Still Flying

We are continuing our journey with TRIP (Targeted Reading Improvement Program).

Child #2, 3 and 4 are all participating.  Child #1 is sitting out.
Currently Child #2 is on lesson 14, Child #3 is on lesson 10 and Child #4 is on lesson #6.

Child #2 is not doing well. He is bored with the program and hurries through things half hazard. I notice he will say letters on the screen correctly but when he goes to write them down he does not write what he's said. For example: The screen flashed Q6, he says "Q, six". Then he proceeds to write QX. He did this five times in one section of lesson 14 (there were only ten combinations so that is pretty poor). Instead of Z2 he wrote 32 , 2a instead of 2A and S4 instead of X4. If you notice the words z and 3 sound alike as do S and X. He is hearing himself say it and trusting what he hears over what he sees.  I don't know how to fix this.

Child #3 is doing okay. She had four errors in her last lesson. She repeatedly writes words and letters backwards and replaces letters like t for d and e for a. The word "good" she read correctly and then wrote goot. Same for "find". The word "back" she spelled b-e-c-k.  My suspicions that she has dyslexia continue.

Child #4 can read the word lists without errors and continues to beg to do the flash practice. I actually think she would do well if I let her. She sits nearby when older sister does TRIP and I have to quiet her when a mistake is made because she wants to correct it. I think her reading confidence is better than I originally believed.

What have I gained from TRIP?
I have learned to observe the small things in my children's writing patterns. I've learned my children's limits. For example, child #3 has greater success with three letter words. When reading a 4 or five letter word she scrambles them.

TRIP has been wonderful for exposing issues I don't think I would have noticed otherwise. For that I'm very thankful. I'm not sure how well it is doing correcting my children's reading issues though.

I do believe that with trained professionals (perhaps in their center) the program could have real success. As a parent using it at home, I need more support and guidance. I need to know how to trouble shoot issues like I've described above and the reassurance that we're on the right track. Other than the video demonstration of the program in action, I don't find much direction for the teacher implementing the program.

We'll continue with the program until the end. I have one more post on TRIP which will report my final thoughts on the program as a whole. Stay tuned!

If you want to know more about TRIP and view a video of the program in action you can do that at

I am a member of The CWA Review Crew. I received my copy of TRIP free in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, February 1, 2013

TRIP In Action

Back on January 21st I gave you a little glimpse at why we decided to try T.r.i.p (Targeted Reading Improvement Program). This time I want to share some things I've noticed on our journey so far.

At this point Child #1 is off reading independently (she is on her own reading journey). Child #2 is on lesson 9,  Child #3 is on lesson 6 and Child #4 is on lesson 4.

With Child #2: I have noticed that his speed has increased and his focus has improved. There are three speeds available for the flash practice function of the program, beginner, intermediate and advanced. In the beginning of our journey we started him at the beginner level and he was frequently struggling to see the words and process the information at that speed. As the lessons have progressed his confidence has built and he is beginning to comprehend that reading requires dedicated focus. He has trained his brain to concentrate and observe. Now he is able to comfortably do lessons at the intermediate speed. I have noticed that his spelling confidence is increasing as much as his reading confidence. Trip is proving a nice success with this child so far.

With Child #3: She struggles with her attention more than the others (though Child #1 and 2 also have ADHD). She is not able to take medication for her ADHD because it makes her extremely sad and changes the joyful personality that we treasure in her.  As a result the flash practice often results in tears. She simply cannot focus her mind, even at the slowest speed. Reading is just so frustrating for her. Her improvements are much more subtle than her brother. I have noticed her comprehension improving and her listening skills are improving. She often copies numbers and letters in the lesson backwards or not as directed (left to right, top to bottom). Again, it requires so much of her attention that she becomes overwhelmed easily. Her favorite portion of the lesson is the story card. There is a section that partially spells out words on her word list and asks her to use logic and reason to complete the word. She loves that part and feels proud when she can correctly answer it. She will require some patience and consistency with the program, but I expect to see her reading skills develop as a result.

With Child #4: She is my youngest and a new reader. For her Trip lesson I work primarily with the word lists. We focus on reading and recognizing the words, especially the sight based words with no phonetic cues. She is begging to do the flash practice, but her writing is so new that I'm a little leery of putting that pressure on her. I want her pleasure in reading to continue so I am taking baby steps on her journey. I'll continue to introduce words lists and read story cards with her. When her writing improves I will implement the flash practice.

If you want to know more about TRIP and view a video of the program in action you can do that at

My updates of our journey will continue . . . Stay Tuned!

I am a member of The CWA Review Crew. I received my copy of TRIP free in exchange for my fair and honest review.